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Beginner’s Guide to SEO Split Testing

When it comes to making landing pages, email copy or even ads, it can be hard to gauge what will perform the best.

Relying on guesses or chance for your marketing decisions is risky. You’re much better off split testing.

Most people have heard of the term A/B testing before. SEO split testing is relatively new to the marketing world but is quickly becoming an essential tool for conversion-driven companies.

What is Split Testing?

Our goal with SEO split testing is to compare multiple versions of the same ad or landing page and see which performs better.

Imagine you’re at the optometrist, getting an eye exam. Split testing is similar: you try out different variations until you’ve found the option that suits you best. When it comes to SEO, the best option is the one that most effectively achieves your goals for the campaign.

In order to begin split testing, you’ll need some ads. The best practice is to create two or more ads that have minor changes to the design, copy or layout (more on that later.) You’ll then show each ad to similar target audiences and monitor their performance.

The Benefit of Split Testing

Simply put, split testing is valuable to businesses because it’s low cost with a high reward.

You could pay someone to write five articles per week, but they may only generate 10 leads. Imagine the savings you could earn by only writing one article in the time it takes to write two but split testing the calls to action (CTAs).

You may find that the number of leads goes from 10 to 20. The extra time spent writing the article means it’s of high quality and unrushed. Even if the test doesn’t yield the results, you can use the knowledge you gained to make data-driven changes for the next time.

The eventual success of your tests will ultimately set you off better than a business that didn’t test.

It’s easy to determine which title has a bigger impact or which button is most clickable using testing. Minor changes and adjustments can make your conversions take off and keep people on your page for as long as possible.

How to Run Split Testing

Before You Run the Test

Step 1: What do you test?

Before you do anything, you have to identify the aspects of the ad or landing page you want to test. It may prove to be a longer list than you bargained for.

However, it’s a good idea to only one variable at a time. That way, you’ll know whether (and exactly how) the change made an impact. These changes don’t have to be major. Even changing the colour of your CTA can improve your results!

If you want to test multiple variables, that’s perfectly fine! The best practice is to test them individually and identify the top performers.

Now, there are times when it does make sense to test multiple variables instead of just one. This is called multivariate testing. This method takes longer to set up and requires more traffic to complete. The more you change, the more combinations you have to test to get useful results.

Step 2: What are your goals?

It’s important to identify the specific goal you want to focus on throughout the test.

Though you’ll end up monitoring multiple metrics for each test, you should choose a primary focus before you start testing.

Why? Simply because it allows you to identify which variable will influence what metric.

You should identify where do you want the variable to end up when the test is done.

Step 3: Creation

It’s time to create your various tests!

You have your variables and goals, so all that’s left is to make them. The first step is to make a control – an unaltered version of whatever it is you want to test. If this is a landing page, you would design and create copy how you normally would.

Once that is finished, it’s time to build your variant page or ad. This will be whatever you’ll be testing against your original. For example, if you’re wondering whether videos or images provide higher engagement, you would set up your unaltered version with just images. Your variation would then replace the images with videos.

Step 4: How Significant Do the Results have to be?

It’s easy to say that the results just have to be better than the original.

But by how much? If you got one more conversion than the original, is that worth it? Probably not.

Statistical significance is the most important part of the testing process. You may recall the term confidence level from your old statistics class. Typically you want to have a 95% confidence level, but the higher the percentage, the surer you are that you’ll have the results you think.

During the Test

Please note that you shouldn’t run more than one test for a single campaign. If you do, it can complicate your results. If you have an ad campaign that directs to a landing page that you’re testing, how do you know which one is actually generating leads?

Step 5: Test the Control and Variant at the Same Time

To begin your test on a website or email, you’ll need to use a testing tool.

Using Google Analytics’ Experiments, you can test up to 10 versions of a web page to monitor the performance.

Once you have that in place, you’ll need to run the campaign at the same time. If you were to run test A about furnaces in the winter and then test B in the summer, you won’t know if it was actually affected by your changes or if it was just the time you ran them.

Step 6: How Long Should the Test Last?

Oftentimes one of the downfalls of testing is limiting the amount of time to see the results.

You won’t see results overnight. It typically takes a week or two to see the variations in the different tests.

So don’t panic if you don’t see results yet!

After the Test

Step 7: Was the Test Significant?

It’s time to reflect on the test you just ran.

Looking back on your original goal, did you meet it? Which performed better?

Once you determine that, it’s time to find out if the test results were statistically significant. Can you justify the change?

Hubspot offers a free split testing calculator for you to use if you don’t want to do it manually.

Step 8: Improve!

These tests are all about making improvements to gain traffic and conversions.

So use the information you’ve gathered to improve your results.

If the test you just ran didn’t work out how you thought, then run another one with a different change! If you were successful, use that in your next campaign.

Use your tests to discover new ways to develop your own content and improve!

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Google Ads

Google is quite possibly the most powerful online advertising platform out there.

You can run ads to generate more leads and revenue. You can sell more products online. And you can bring more traffic to your website.

Best of all, Google Ads are relatively simple to execute.

Why Google Ads?

Google is the most popular search engine in the world, receiving 3.5 billion search queries a day and an estimated 700% return on investment.  It’s used by people everywhere to ask questions from “How many ounces of flour equates to one cup?” to “What is the best outfit for a first date?” These questions are answered with a combination of paid advertisements and organic results.

Ok, so advertising on Google makes the most sense from an ROI standpoint – based on the massive amount of daily users – but what are the tangible benefits to advertising on Google?

Google Ads are:

  • Scalable
    • If you create a Google Ads campaign that is converting at a profitable rate, there is no reason to cap spend on that campaign. Just hop back into your Google Ads account and bump up your PPC budget. Your leads and profits rise accordingly!
  • Measurable
    • With detailed conversion tracking, Google Ads PPC is one of the most measurable of online channels.
    • Google Ads is more transparent, providing tons of PPC metrics.
    • Quickly determine if your campaigns are sucking or returning ROI.
  • Flexible
    • Google Ads provides tons of options so you can customize your campaigns.
    • Hyper-target the audiences you most want to reach.

In addition, specific keyword match types for example, only show your ad to people who search for an exact keyword you specify, like “Vegas hotels” – filtering out traffic on general terms related to Las Vegas or hotels.

Google Ads Best Practices

Google Ads typically perform quite well without in-depth optimization. However, in order to get the biggest bang for your buck, it’s important to do your research.

What are your competitors doing successfully? How could you implement optimizations into your campaigns to maximize performance?

  1. Use ad extensions to display product images, a phone number, a mega-pack of links to your site, and your physical location.
  2. Narrow your audience by location, time of day to be targeted, language, browser or device type.
  3. Access an enormous network of non-search users on properties like Gmail and YouTube.

1. Using Google Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are additional bits of information about your business that can be added to your Google text ads. These extensions can automatically pull info from your Google My Business profile or be populated manually. Both types of Google Ad extensions can have value: automatic extensions are convenient, while manual extensions offer powerful customization.

Currently, you can enrich your text ads with 10 types of extensions:

  • Sitelink Extensions: additional links you can add to your search ad to allow searchers to view all your various offerings up front
  • Location Extensions: show the address of your business as well as hours of operation directly in your search ad; this is a fundamental action to ensure more traffic to your storefront location; must connect a ‘Google My Business’ account to Google Ads to enable location extensions
  • Affiliate Location Extensions: these help potential customers find the best, and nearest, retail stores that sell your product; most useful for large brands that are sold nationwide
  • Structured Snippet Extensions: these provide advertisers with three additional header lines of text to include meaningful business information
  • Call Extensions: allows the business telephone number to be shown on the ad; on mobile devices, users can use this extension to directly dial your business
  • Message Extensions: shown on mobile devices, and allows the searcher to contact you via text message; message extensions cannot be tracked for conversions
  • App Extensions: this extension allows you to add a mobile app download button next to your ad; a customizable call to action can be included beneath your ad
  • Callout Extensions: like Sitelink Extensions, but without clickable links; allows the advertiser to provide additional information and relevance regarding your ad; can help improve the click-through rate and the conversion rate
  • Price Extensions: allows the advertiser to display products and/or services alongside their prices directly in the ad; price extensions only appear if Google ranks your ad as #1
  • Promotion Extensions: allows the advertiser to include coupons, sales and other deals in their ad; you can schedule promotion extensions within Google Ads for custom holidays and promotions that are exclusive to your business

However, extensions don’t always appear when your ad is shown. It depends on:

  • Your ad’s position and Adrank; and
  • Whether Google predicts the extension will help or hinder your ad’s performance.

2. Narrowing Your Google Ads Audience

Google lets you narrow your ad’s audience to better reach those who are most likely to be within your target demographic. You can define your audience based on specific demographics, locations and devices – including the ability to exclude users who are outside your niche.

3. Leveraging Google’s Non-Search Network

The Google Ads platform gives you the option to display your ads across numerous non-search networks affiliated with Google. This feature is what earns Google Ads its status as the most versatile international advertising platform.

Google’s extended network includes channels such as:

  • YouTube TrueView For Action: videos ads that include a direct call-to-action. You only pay when the user elects to view your video. Targeting specific keywords and utilizing call-to-action buttons can greatly reduce your cost-per-click.
  • Smart Shopping: this new campaign type uses automation to optimize bidding for maximum ROI. It’s extremely efficient for advertisers with small budgets.
  • Display Remarketing: these are image ads shown on Google’s partner sites to users who have visited your site in the past. Remarketing is a great campaign to move the user to conversion.
  • Gmail Ads: text ads that appear in users’ promotions inbox in Gmail. If the user clicks, they are brought to a display ad, which will direct the user straight to your landing page.

Types of Google Ad Campaigns

Google gives you plenty of ad campaigns to choose from. The campaign you select will determine where people will be able to see your ads – so your choice should be based on your specific advertising goals.

Some of the most commonly used campaign types are:

  • Search Network Campaign: ads appear in Google Search results (and on other Google sites) when users search for relevant keywords. Your ads are displayed to people who are looking for information related to the content of your ad. The goal of a search network campaign is to generate a specific user action: sales, leads, phone calls or clicks to your website.
  • Display Network Campaign: display ads appear to users while they’re browsing online, watching YouTube videos, checking Gmail or using their mobile device and apps. These campaigns can help promote your brand, generate product awareness, or increase sales and leads.
  • Shopping Campaign: these ads use Merchant Center product data to show users an image of your product, along with the price and the name of your store. They help to promote what you’re selling, drive traffic to your store (online or offline) and find you more qualified leads.
  • Video Campaign: display video ads by themselves or along with other streaming content on YouTube and across the Google Display Network.
  • App Campaign: app ads appear across Google’s mobile platforms such as mobile Search, Google Play, the YouTube App and the Display Network. These ads can be used to encourage users to install your app or make in-app actions.

Google Ads Terminology

Marketing terminology can be daunting. We’ve provided a comprehensive breakdown of some of the most popular Google Ads terms to help you navigate.

AdRank

Your AdRank determines your ad placement. The higher the value, the better you’ll rank, thus a higher chance of getting clicks. Ad Rank is determined by your maximum bid multiplied by your Quality Score.

Bidding

The higher your bid, the better your placement. Your three bidding options are CPC, CPM, or CPE.

Cost-per-click (CPC)

The amount you pay for each click on your ad.

Cost-per-mile (CPM)

The amount you pay for one thousand ad impressions when your ad is shown to a thousand people.

Cost-per-engagement (CPE)

The amount you pay when someone takes a specific action with your ad. You chose this engagement action when you create your campaign.

Campaign Type

The format of your ads and where your ads will appear.

  • Search ads: text ads that are displayed among search results on a Google results page.
  • Display ads: typically image-based and are shown on web pages within the Google Display Network.
  • Video ads: between six and 15 seconds and appear on YouTube.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

The number of people who click through to your website from your ads.

Conversion Rate (CVR)

A measure of form submissions versus the number of total visits to your landing page. The higher your CVR, the greater the proportion of visitors that turn into leads.

Pay-per-click (PPC)

A type of advertising where the advertiser pays per click on an ad. PPC is not specific to Google Ads but is a very important metric to track when running your campaign.

Quality Score (QS)

A  number determined by Google that rates the quality and relevance of your ads and keywords. Higher quality ads and keywords perform better with your audience. New keywords automatically start out with a Quality Score of 6. Per WordStream:

  • A good Quality Score for branded keywords is between 8 and 10.
  • A good Quality Score for high-intent commercial keywords is 7 to 9.
  • 7 is a good Quality Score for low-intent keywords.

Get Started With Google Ads

Advertising on Google is an effective way to support a Lead Generation strategy. If you’re looking for guidance or agency experience in the Google Ads realm, contact us today!